What *is* content marketing anyway?

Content MarketingWhat is content marketing?

Content marketing is something most marketers have done for years without ever knowing that it had a name.  I don’t remember learning about it in journalism school, yet I’ve provided content marketing to my clients since my first day at my first marketing job.  The only difference is that now, I’m sharing it online.

Content marketing is defined as “using informative or entertaining content to attract and retain customers and position your business as a trusted resource in your industry.”

Instead of aggressive and persistent outgoing messages designed to attract attention, content marketing provides useful information that can be quietly appreciated and uniquely valued by clients and prospects alike. The sales message from you is subtle—almost to the point of subliminal.

If you’ve ever read your alma mater’s alumni magazine, you’ve read content marketing. If you have spoken at a Chamber of Commerce or other networking event, you’ve provided content marketing. Recipes on the back of cans from food companies, realtor articles in the local paper, customer newsletters – these are all considered content marketing.

The bottom line is that content marketing is never a direct sales pitch. “Content marketing is engaging with your community around an idea instead of a product. What it is is to try to serve the community first, and sharing information, ideas and experiences that benefit others without directly asking for anything in return. What it isn’t is just a veil in front of a sales pitch,” says Dan Blank of We Grow Media.

Here are some examples of content marketing you may already be doing:

  • Free workshops, seminars or webinars
  • A regular newsletter that educates (not sells)
  • A well-written, regularly updated blog
  • A customer newsletter or magazine that educates – not sells
  • Articles you write for trade magazines or journals
  • Video tutorials
  • Detailed case studies
  • White papers

Share valuable info on your website, social sites and blog, and you will be employing a great age-old marketing tool that also helps to educate consumers on the products and services you sell (and they need).  As long as your content gives them something they need or want for free, they will likely seek out and share your future content marketing because you have demonstrated trust, authority, and influence.

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